Moonset Thanksgiving Day, 2015

The End of Another Year

As the year draws to a close, we find ourselves reflecting back on the year.  In doing so, we couldn’t help but to come up with our own ‘top ten list’. Not really a ‘top’ ten, but more of a compilation of some of what happened in 2015.

1. Slow Nature

In a world of having to be constantly ‘on’ and looking forward to the next, upcoming thing, a growing awareness of the need to slow down and replenish – to heighten our sensibilities and stay present dominated much of the discussion surrounding urban nature. This served to energize us to save what greenspace we have left in Seattle.

2. Natural Areas for All – Cheasty Greenspace vs. Cheasty Greenspace at Mountain View

This divisive issue began in 2014, continued into 2015, and is a big reason to be concerned with what happens with the Supplemental Use Guidelines in 2016. Lots of good intentions to restore a ‘neglected natural area’ turned into a focused effort by a specialized user group to take a natural space and turn it into a mountain bike park for a few.

3. Supplemental Use Guidelines

This proposal by Seattle Parks and Recreation to make it easier to open up natural areas to active recreation took up the majority of our time this year. Behind the scenes we met with many groups throughout the city, expressed our concerns, shared ideas, discussed strategy. Getting more familiar with all the groups out there working hard was gratifying. Completing online surveys, attending the park ‘mini-summit’, focus groups, reviewing various SUG drafts, neighborhood association meeting presentations was a challenge and we often were discouraged. But thanks to our members encouragement, and all the organizations also supporting this effort,  we stayed committed to this cause.

4. Density, Tree Canopy, The Comprehensive Plan

Density. This issue was here in 2014. It was here in 2015. And, we are sure will continue to challenge greenspace preservation in 2016. An open letter by Cass Turnbull (Plant Amnesty) to the Urban Forestry Commission that summed up a wishlist for the city’s update to the Comprehensive Plan. We’re happy to have the Seattle Greenspace Coalition focusing  hard on these issues and are supportive of their efforts.

5. Lights Out – Where were you  Seattle?

This request (a bit outside our core mission) seemed like a no brainer, with the city, county and state all clamoring for ways to reduce energy consumption and to appear on the bandwagon to be doing their part to mitigate the effects of climate change (and save a few migrating birds in the meantime) . Although we had some interest from Magnusen Park group, not one word from Mayor, County Executive or the Governor. We will be sending this on again in 2016.

6. Parks are For Everyone

Our first petition. Although a little frightening it was fun watching the number of signatures grow. Thanks to all who signed and shared. Your signatures and comments were shared with the Mayor, City of Seattle council members, and Parks board members. You were instrumental in defeating the original proposal and Parks responding with a revised version. Still not happy? Neither are we. Look for this issue to emerge again early in 2016.

The petition

7. One Voice / Many Voices

We were so inspired by all the organizations that came together to speak out against Seattle Parks and Recreation proposed Supplemental Use Guidelines. We believe our collective voice was instrumental in making Parks re-write the policy and ultimately put it ‘on hold’ until 2016. Not as nice as winning the game, but at least pushed the game into overtime. The game will start up again in 2016. Stay tuned.

8. Forest Floor Signs

Two forest floor signs were installed in Lincoln Park. Our membership dues (approximately 90%) went directly into the purchase of these signs – something to feel pretty good about the next time you walk by one. Many thanks to all our contributing members, the Friends of Lincoln Park (Sharon Baker!) and to Seattle Parks staff who helped get them installed.

9. People Dogs and Parks Strategic Plan

After becoming aware of an effort underway to expand the off-leash policy in Seattle Parks, we jumped in to make sure neighborhood associations, community groups and stakeholders left out of the conversation were aware of this effort. As we suspected, most were not. Again, we met so many amazing concerned individuals!  As challenging as it is it times, it helps makes the effort worthwhile.

10. Inspiration – Ravens/ Phantom Orchid in Lincoln Park

It is easy to get discouraged. At times tempting to throw up our collective hands and give up. But with every walk in the park, we are grateful. To have such serenity and beauty nearby and recommit to its preservation and renew our mission: To advocate for the protection and preservation of Seattle’s natural areas for wildlife habitat, passive use, and scenic beauty.

Happy New Year! from Denise, Mark & Rebecca

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